Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) is under growing pressure to resign from members of her own party. California Democrat Ro Khanna told Fox News Sunday that Feinstein, who is 89 years old, is "not showing up."
"This has to do with someone who is just not showing up, and I said out loud what people have been saying in private, and this is how the Beltway works," he said.
Feinstein has been absent since seeking treatment for shingles in March, but Democrats have long whispered about the senator's cognitive health.
While most Democrats have publicly deferred to Feinstein, a handful of Democrats, such as Khanna, have urged her to retire early, something she has given no indication of doing.
Khanna said Feinstein, who is not seeking re-election in 2024, should show "deference to the American people" and step aside.
"The reality here is there's the sense, ‘Well you need to have a deference to these senators who have served so long.’ How about a deference to the American people? How about an expectation that if you sign up to do one of these jobs, you show up?" Khanna said.
However, Khanna has resisted applying the same standard to Democratic Senator John Fetterman (Pa.), who won a surprise victory last year after suffering a debilitating stroke. Fetterman was expected to return to work Monday after his absence for weeks over depression.
Khanna's reluctance to boot Fetterman is not surprising, as it would deprive Democrats of their razor-thin, 51-seat majority, and unlike Feinstein's seat, Fetterman's is in a competitive state.
But Khanna told Fox that there's another distinction: Feinstein's absence is indefinite, unlike Fetterman's. Of course, it's arguable whether Fetterman is actually "present," given his condition, but Khanna glossed over the issue.
"So, it's one thing to take medical leave and come back. It's another thing where you're just not doing the job," he said.
Candidates have already lined up for Feinstein's seat, including Adam Schiff (D-Ca.), Katie Porter (D-Ca.), and Barbara Lee (D-Ca.) It just so happens that Khanna has endorsed Lee, a black woman.
Governor Gavin Newsom (D) has already committed to appointing a black woman if Feinstein retires early. If Newsom were to appoint Lee, the race for Feinstein's seat would no longer be an open contest -- it would be a lopsided one with Lee running at a huge advantage.
Khanna told the Hill last week he wants "to make sure that African American women have representation.” But he told Fox News that Newsom can appoint a "caretaker" to keep the contest fair.
"This has nothing to do with the current race because a caretaker would solve that. This has to do with someone who is just not showing up." he said.
Feinstein has received support from a Schiff ally, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), who has dismissed the pressure for Feinstein to resign as "sexist."